Book notes: What if we stopped pretending

I originally wrote this post for the ‘Training on what to do After Declaring a Climate Emergencyalumni network, and I’m sharing it here too. For some start-the-week inspiration I’m sharing some thoughts after reading Jonathan Franzen’sWhat If We Stopped Pretending‘. Thank you to James Norman for lending this to me a week a go. 

For me, his message is that by facing up to the truth of the climate emergency we can actually find a place for hope in our work. His position, for which he admits he has been roundly criticised by people on both sides of the climate debate, is to say that we have lost the battle to stop climate breakdown. We lost it ten years ago. If we set our sights on the single goal of limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees, then we are only set ourselves up to fail, because it is no-longer possible.

That’s not to say that every tonne of carbon dioxide that is saved from going into the atmosphere isn’t important. It is, it will all make a difference. But it is a reminder that breakdown is coming, and so what we need to do is to build our resilience to cope with it. Strengthening our communities, helping nature regenerate as much as we can, strengthening civic and judicial systems to ensure that when difficult times strike, we have the resources to respond. 

All of these things are important, achievable at different scales, and all of these are things that we can contribute in some way to ourselves. All are things we can invest hope in.

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